A red-shirt activist urged that his case must not be tried by a military court since the crime was committed before the coup makers’ order was issued to have lèse majesté cases tried by military courts.
Thanat Thanawatcharanon, aka Tom Dundee, a country singer-turned-red-shirt activist, who was charged with lèse majesté, has sent a letter to the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) to help transfer his case to the criminal court.
Among other reasons, he said his alleged lèse majesté speech was delivered in June 2013 while the junta in May 2014 issued Announcement 37/2014, stipulating that any case related to national security, including offences under Article 112, must be tried by military tribunals. The prosecutor argued for a trial in military court because the speech has been uploaded and was still available on YouTube after the Announcement was issued. The case, therefore, is being tried by a military court.
Apart from the reason of the date, Tom also challenged the legitimacy and quality of military tribunals.
“The military court is under the Defence Ministry, so the court is neither independent nor objective,” said Tom in the letter, written in December 2014. “I was deprived of my right to bail or temporarily release during the trial for unjustifiable reasons. The court claimed, without investigation or evidence, that I would flee.”
“A coup d’état is the overthrow of democracy. This path to power is unconstitutional and violates criminal law and human rights principles. The orders of the National Council for Peace and Order (NCPO) to arrest me and several others are not lawful and violate human rights principles and rights and liberty under the democratic system,” Tom wrote in the letter.
Nirand Pitakwatchara, a NHRC commissioner, told Prachatai that the NHRC has accepted Tom’s request. The Commission however has no power to interfere as its authority under the 2007 Constitution, torn up by the military junta, no longer exists.
Apart from a charge under Article 112, or the lèse majesté law, the red-shirt activist is also charged with offences under the Computer Crime Act.
He made the alleged lèse majesté remarks at a red-shirt rally, held by Kotee Red Guard, in November 2013. A video of his speeches was uploaded to YouTube.
The singer was earlier charged with defying a National Council for Peace and Order (NCPO) order by not reporting to the military after being summoned. He was then released on bail. However, he has been detained at Bangkok Remand Prison since he was re-arrested for lèse majesté in July 2014. The court has repeatedly denied his bail requests.
In 2010, the Network of Voluntary Citizens to Protect the Monarchy on Facebook pressured the Department of Special Investigation (DSI) to prosecute Tom for his speech at a red-shirt rally in Ratchaburi Province.